Oct. 19, 2000 NEW YORK -- New devices which control muscles in the extremities and spine are enabling some paraplegics and quadriplegics to regain use of their bodies after paralysis.
"Utilizing implanted neuroprostheses, persons with upper extremity weakness can use their hands to write, hold objects and express themselves," said Michael W. Keith, MD, at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons' 10th annual Orthopaedics Update. "Hand movement is triggered by an advanced electronic system incorporating surgically-implanted sensors, wireless technology, radio frequency communication and microprocessor technologies.
"In systems under development, information recorded from sensors, muscles or surface-recorded brain waves is processed so as to move muscles, joints and other body parts," reported Dr. Keith, professor of orthopaedics and biomedical engineering, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland.
Another version of the implanted device, already used by more than 170 patients worldwide, is activated by shoulder movement sensors worn outside the body. "Similar functional electrical stimulation (FES) principles permit control of bowel and bladder, breathing and lower limb movements," he said.
"Neuroprostheses also are under development which enable patients to reach, stand, take steps and transfer from a wheelchair," said Dr. Keith. "These advanced electronic devices are likely to allow increasingly more complex movements and the accomplishment of more difficult tasks."
The research projects are all under way at the Cleveland FES Center, Cleveland, a consortium in functional electrical stimulation technology. The consortium includes the Cleveland VA Medical Center, Case Western Reserve University and MetroHealth Medical Center, Cleveland.
"The neuroprothesis is but one of the new surgical and technological advances of the Bone and Joint Decade that will improve people's lives," noted Dr. Keith. The Bone and Joint Decade, the years 2000-2010, is a global effort by medical and patient health associations to advance understanding and treatment of musculoskeletal disorders through prevention, education and research.
An orthopaedic surgeon is a medical doctor with extensive training in the diagnosis and nonsurgical as well as surgical treatment of the musculoskeletal system, including bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles and nerves.
The 24,500-member American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons www.aaos.org is a not-for-profit organization that provides education programs for orthopaedic surgeons, allied health professionals and the public, and is an advocate for improved patient care. The Academy supports the Bone and Joint Decade 2000-2010 (http://www.bonejointdecade.org) initiative.
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